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Join HDFFA for a Panel Discussion on Small-Scale Farming & Water Use in the Deschutes Basin

(Graphic | Courtesy of High Desert Food and Farm Alliance)

Have you been following the extreme drought taking place in Central Oregon and wondering what impacts it is having on local farmers and ranchers? Join the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance for a virtual panel discussion titled Small-Scale Farming and Water Use in the Deschutes Basin on August 9 from 6-7:30pm to hear about solutions and ask your farm- and ranch-related questions to our panel of experts.

There are a variety of stakeholders who rely on water from the Deschutes Basin, which starts in the lakes of the Cascade Mountains and flows to the Columbia River, including conservationists, tourism and recreation professionals and farmers and ranchers. Many farmers in this area grow hay or other fibers, but this panel will be focused specifically on small- to medium-sized food-producing farmers and ranchers in Central Oregon. 

We will be joined by four professionals working on water allocation and efficiency solutions for the Deschutes Basin. There are currently eight irrigation districts represented by the Deschutes Basin Board of Control with different water allotments and cut off dates for each district. Our panelists each bring their own perspectives to the issue and we are looking forward to having a variety of viewpoints involved in this forum. 

Panelists include:

  • Phil Chang: Deschutes County commissioner
  • Kate Fitzpatrick: executive director of the Deschutes River Conservancy and member of the Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative
  • Shon Rae: deputy managing director of Central Oregon Irrigation District
  • Todd Peplin: Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District Programs lead

“Drought in Central Oregon is nothing new,” says Annie Nichols, Farm and Ranch Support Manager for the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, “but this year is unprecedented. We’re seeing water allotments for some farmers at the lowest they’ve ever been and certain irrigation districts are set to shut off in August. If something doesn’t change, farmers and ranchers will continue to struggle and we may see more going out of business in the coming years.”

If you have a question that you would like to be posed to the panelists, please send Annie Nichols an email at by August 4. If you’d like to attend, you can register at

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